SAN AGUSTIN, PILI, CAMARINES SUR – Some 31 farmers association in Bicol were the initial recipients of P54.6M farm machineries under the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) of the Department of Agriculture.

The machineries distributed included 29 units Rice combine harvester worth P43.9M; 7 units riding type transplanter amounting to P8M; 5 units walk behind transplanter worth P1.6M; and 8 units rice reaper amounting to P857,000. The said machineries were received and brought home by the presidents of the recipient farmers associations.

Baldwin Jallorina, national director of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech) said that this is the first and partial distribution under the P5B Mechanization component allocated to Philmech under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) allocation.

The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund was created under RA 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

“Libre po ito (machineries). Sana gamitin natin nang wasto at huwag ipagdamot sa mga myembro ng asosasyon upang mapababa natin ang cost of production at mapataas ang ani at kita. Dahil sa tulong ng mga makinaryang ito, kahit 2 tao lang ay kayang gampanan ang mga gawain sa bukid. Mula ngayon, hindi na kayo maghapong nakayuko sa gawaing bukid,” director Jallorina added.

Rodel P. Tornilla, DA Bicol Regional Executive Director said that the initial 31 farmer beneficiaries were very lucky as they were chosen from a total of 872 farmers associations already accredited by DA in Bicol. Half of this or 380 farmers’ associations are in Camarines Sur province.

“This is only the beginning of distribution of the machineries as RCEF will be implemented for at least 6 years,” director Tornilla added.

Tornilla challenged the recipients to be role models in implementing the programs of the DA like farm consolidation and clustering, where the use of these farm machineries will be maximized. He added that under Sec. Dar’s new paradigm, most of the DA interventions will be intended for clustered farmers and consolidated land areas.

“I hope that with your help, we will start embracing farm clustering and land consolidation,” he added.

Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur said that the only way that the Philippines will be at par with other countries is through mechanization and the distribution of machineries is one step ahead.

Congressman Garbriel H. Bordado, Jr. of the 3rd district of Cam. Sur said that agriculture mechanization is the answer to the numerous problems besetting the agriculture sector today including the low contribution of the sector to the GDP in 2019 to 2020.

One of the recipients, Edward Yater, President of Buluang Communal Irrigators Inc. from San Vicente, Buhi, Camarines Sur thanked the DA and Philmech for the machineries they received and hoped that Philmech will continue developing machineries for the Filipino farmers.

Also present during the event were Mayor Tomas Bongalonta of Pili, Camarines Sur; mayor Marco Chavez of San Jose, Camarines Sur; TESDA 5 Regional Director Toni June Tamayo; ATI 5 Center Director Elsa Parot; PhilRice Bicol Director Victoria Lapitan; Philmech Facility Management and Field Operations Division Chief Joel V. Dator; DA Bicol Regional Technical Directors Luz R. Marcelino and Dr. Edgar R. Madrid and other DA officials. The farmers were accompanied by their municipal agriculturists. (Lovella P. Guarin / RAFIS 5 photos)